Two new names were added to the ever-growing list of Marlborough youngsters helped along their career paths by the Inspire Foundation Marlborough during a glittering evening at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Thursday, October 22.
Given the extraordinary happenings of 2020, the Foundation decided to go all out and host a sit-down dinner for 300 with Sir Michael Hill as the guest speaker to honour the next round of grantees and raise awareness of the Foundation’s work.
“What a way to toast the talent in our region and pause to reflect how lucky we are to be able to have a large gathering to celebrate our future leaders in these uncertain times,” said Inspire spokesperson Angela Wilson.
“Sir Michael was highly entertaining … his life story reflects the values of our foundation – grit, resilience, determination, and ability to overcome adversity to shine. While very funny, and beautifully delivered, his speech had many poignant points that were relevant not to just our grantees but to all present.”
With an eye on ensuring the future of the Foundation a fundraising auction was staged, with items such as an art piece drawn by Sir Michael Hill during lock down, a signed jersey from Emirates Team NZ and a signed golf glove worn by Tiger Woods in 2002 among the more popular bids.
TVNZ reporter Kaitlyn Ruddock was MC for the evening.
Since the Inspire Foundation Marlborough came into being in this region in November 2017, 33 grantees have been recognised, several receiving regrants to help them further along their way. Joseph Sullivan and Craig Harper have been appointed Inspire Ambassadors.
The first grantee on Thursday was smallbore shooter Dom Henry. He represented New Zealand twice in the past year in this demanding sport and been accepted into the New Zealand junior development programme. Dom placed fifth overall at the national secondary school championships and was selected in the New Zealand team to face Great Britain. The 16-year-old was also selected for the second year on the NZ under 21 men’s team. He hopes to be chosen for the 2021 Oceania Shooting Championships and his long-term goal is to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The other new grantee was musician Sharon Wilson. After specialising in the flute for many years, Sharon recently decided to take up the cello. Although many of her lessons have been online because of COVID, she has made rapid progress with both instruments and is lead flute in various stage musical shows, as part of the local orchestra. She is currently working towards grade 8 for both flute and cello and is part of the NZSO mentoring programme for both instruments. Her goal next year is to be part of the New Zealand Secondary School’s Symphony orchestra, be part of the National Youth Orchestra and eventually after finishing her studies at university she would like to be playing professionally.
Regrants were also announced to a couple of outstanding performers in the musical field – composer Kodi Rasmussen and tenor horn player Eleanor Grigg.
The evening also offered a chance to re-recognise three previous grantees who were named during a Zoom ceremony at the height of the COVID lockdown – touch player Nikau Peipi, forensic scientist Stephie Loncar and violinist Lauren Doherty.
To qualify for a grant, applicants must be aged between 15 and 23 years of age, a resident of Marlborough for at least three years with New Zealand Citizenship and have demonstrated extraordinary ability or potential in any of the areas of Arts, IT, Design, Music, Science, Research, Education, Sport or Community Service.